“Living on the brink” and other ways to describe poverty

describe povertySure, we can talk about “the poor” or “people living in poverty,” but we shouldn’t.  A recent study conducted by Lake Research Partners and ASO Communications for the Center for Community Change explains that this is not how people with incomes below the poverty line described themselves.  The center commissioned the study as part of its initiative to dismantle the barriers that create and sustain poverty. Their recommendations challenge us to be move beyond metaphors that unintentionally reinforce poverty as beyond our control and instead focus on how working people produce America’s wealth. They encourage us to tell stories of how we all can come together to build stronger communities and to be smarter about how we describe “those of us who clock in and out every day to keep America working.” In our own efforts to explain why addressing poverty requires public solutions, Public Works is certain to refer to the center’s list of “words to embrace,” and we’ll strive to eliminate from our lexicon their “words to avoid.”

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